Starting the Lab

Posted on February 18, 2013

Susanne Ahmari (bio) talks about making the first hire for her K award project.


So as soon as I got my K, I was appointed to an assistant professor position at Columbia, where I am. And so the transition to being in a more managerial position went along with that.

So with the K award comes $50,000 in research funds. And so with that, I wanted to hire a technician, a research assistant, to help me with the lab work, because that was one thing that I had clearly already an over-ambitious K research project. And I needed help, and I needed to be able to do that.

The problem is $50,000 is barely enough to cover a technician and fringe salary. Luckily, I had managed to get a couple of other smaller foundation grants that could supplement that. So I was actually able to hire a full-time technician. I got the K in July, and then I hired my tech in October.

So in October the first year of my K, I started with a full-time technician, and in December of that same year I was able to move into my own lab space right down the hall from my basic science mentor. So still within range so that I could use common equipment and things like that because, again, $50,000 is not enough to actually be able to support a lab. But with that and with a small amount of start-up money to purchase some essential equipment for the lab, I was able to get going.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2012 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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